Tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal very early on in their careers separated themselves from the rest of the Tour for their dominance in tournaments of all tiers. The two formed a great rivalry between them and mostly saw each other in the finals of events across surfaces.
The rivalry over the time however developed into a friendship of sort having shared the stage together for almost two decades with animosity between the two reducing. While the rest of the players on the Tour continued to trail them, only Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray (before his injuries) could join them on a different level.
However, with the introduction of the Laver Cup in 2017 and fans getting to see the friendship between the two gave more fire to the ‘Fedal’ (Federer + Nadal) fanbase. With Roger and Rafa playing in one team as doubles partners and celebrating wins together, it became a common notion that the two greats were best of buddies off the court but an interview last year by Nadal ended all those speculations.
“We are very good companions and as the time went on, our relationship improved. We are not close friends, I would not tell him that my knee hurts before facing him! We can call each other anytime and speak about anything. I spoke with him just today!” said Nadal speaking with Vision de Juego.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have contested 24 finals between them
The reason behind Nadal thinking he and Roger are still not best friends could be the matches they contested over the past 20 years. Having first met in Miami in 2004, 32nd seeded Nadal shocked the top-seed Roger in the first round before the Swiss had his revenge in the finals of the same tournament next year playing a nail-biting final.
Nadal then defeated Federer in the semis on his way to winning the 2005 French Open title, starting a streak of 5 consecutive wins against Federer, a feat he did on 3 separate occasions. Roger’s biggest winning streak was his 6-match winning run against the Spaniard of which four matches were finals. Other than that, Roger never won more than 3 matches at once against the ‘King of Clay’.
They last met in the semi-finals of the 2019 Wimbledon where Federer won in 4-sets to claim his 16th win against Rafa who has 24 wins against the Swiss great. Of the 40 meetings so far between them, the duo met in 24 finals of which Nadal won 14 and Roger has won 10.